AUSTIN _ When voters in a handful of districts near Fort Worth and in South Texas and Houston cast their ballots for state representative in Tuesday's primaries, they'll also cast the first votes in what could be a bruising and protracted battle for speaker of the Texas House in 2009.
It will be an indirect choice because the speaker is elected by members of the House. But forces aligned with House Speaker Tom Craddick, a Republican from Midland, and forces bent on removing him from power are playing a high-stakes role in the outcome of local primaries for both major political parties.
Craddick's neck has been on the line since the closing days of the 2007 legislative session, when he put down a rebellion by some House members seeking to remove him from office. Now his opponents are working to make sure his supporters are defeated.
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